CHOKEPOINTS

HOV lanes and left lane camping explained, again

Jul 14, 2022, 7:10 AM | Updated: 10:38 am

It’s time to revisit one of our favorite topics: the HOV lane and left-lane camping.

Our good friend and KIRO Newsradio fill-in host Travis Mayfield posted this last week on Twitter.


He recounted a recent trip where he was driving in the HOV lane from Tacoma to Seattle. Travis said he was going the speed limit and several drivers came up from behind and rode his bumper and then jumped into another lane and pass him aggressively.

That post sparked a lot of discussions, including a lot of comments from people who do not understand how the HOV lanes work and how they apply to the left lane law.

First, let’s go over the left lane law. RCW 46.61.100 clearly states that you must be in the right lane unless you are passing. If you are hanging out in the left lane without passing anyone, you are camping and violating the law, even if you are going the speed limit. You are not there to control the speed of other drivers.

So does the HOV lane count as the left lane? If you are going the speed limit in the HOV lane and not passing anyone is that breaking the camping law?

The answer is NO, State Trooper Rick Johnson explained.  “The [HOV lane] is not counted as a general purpose lane, and the law applies to the general purpose lanes for left-lane camping,”  Johnson said. “It is a restricted lane. Unfortunately, there are some people that believe that is the left lane.”

The HOV lane is its own thing. The camping rule never applies to that lane, even when that lane is not active.

For example, the HOV lane is only active on part of 405 from 5 a.m. to  7 p.m. But from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., it doesn’t just suddenly turn into a general purpose lane.  “That HOV lane is still not the left lane, and so you just pretend like it doesn’t exist, in essence, when you’re thinking about that left lane law,” Trooper Johnson said.

But Trooper Johnson’s advice here is simple. If you’re not passing, just stay in the right lanes.  “If it’s open to all and the other lanes are clear, just stay out of that far left lane,” he said.

Travis’ twitter thread also led us into the deep end of the pool in this discussion.  Does the left lane camping rule apply in the 405 Express Toll Lanes (ETL) where there are two lanes?  Should you be in the left ETL between Bellevue and Bothell, if you are not passing other ETL drivers?

The left lane camping rule does not apply here either because the express toll lanes are not general purpose lanes. That said, Trooper Johnson says the best thing to do is to stay in right ETL lane anyway.

“If you don’t need to be in that lane and you’re not actively passing, just get into the next ETL lane,” Trooper Johnson said. “That will avoid any kind of aggravation by other drivers.”

And that is the best advice overall. You shouldn’t be in the left lane unless you are passing. When traffic is light, there isn’t really a need to be in the HOV lane either. While you are certainly eligible to be there, hanging right might be better for overall traffic flow.

And by the way, if you are in the HOV lane, please go the speed limit or keep up with the general traffic flow.

 

 

Chokepoints

I-90 - Snoqualmie Pass East (WSDOT)...
Chris Sullivan

I-90, Snoqualmie Pass construction returns with lane-widening and expected traffic delays

I-90 construction between North Bend and Ellensburg is back. Lane closures and long delays are in your future.
3 days ago
Photo courtesy of the City of Des Moines...
Chris Sullivan

Des Moines betting on fast ferry service to attract visitors

What's old is new again for Puget Sound transportation. Decades after turning our back on the water, one city is using it for congestion relief and a development spark.
4 days ago
roundabout...
Chris Sullivan

Roundabout to slow traffic on Hwy 9 in Snohomish

We're talking about roundabouts today because Highway 9 in Snohomish County is about to be closed down for about a week to put one in.
5 days ago
seafair boats bridge party...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 construction persists through Seafair weekend with WSDOT halfway through revival project

This is about as busy of a summer weekend as you can get in Seattle, but construction will not be taking any time off, this is Seafair Weekend.
10 days ago
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

A driver’s guide for passing and slow-moving vehicles

Slow-moving vehicles and risky passers are a deadly combination. With about a month left of summer, it's time for a good reminder on the rules.
19 days ago
(Photo by Philip James Corwin/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

Construction won’t ease just because the hot Mariners are hosting Houston

Friday's game against Houston is sold out, and T-Mobile Park will be near capacity but guess what?  Construction isn't going to be taking the weekend off.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
HOV lanes and left lane camping explained, again